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Opiate hypothesis in infantile autism?

Therapeutic trials with naltrexone

Naltrexone has been tested in several open studies. We performed an open trial with naltrexone in 2 autistic girls, displaying serious self-injurious behavior, reduced crying and a marked preference for salty and spicy foods, symptoms that could be related to a dysfunction of the opioid system. With dosages of 1 mg/kg/day, we observed an immediate reduction of hyperactivity, self-injurious behavior and aggressiveness, while attention improved. In addition, social behaviors, smiling, social seeking behaviors and play interactions increased (Leboyer, Bouvard et Dugas, 1988). Campbell et al. (1988) has also reported a tranquilizing and a stimulating effect in 6 out of 8 children with autism. We did confirm these preliminary results in a double-blind study performed on 4 children with autism.

Have you heard of this?


Asked by Anonymous at 4:13 AM on May. 27, 2009 in Kids' Health

This question is closed.
Answers (3)
  • Yes, I read about that years ago when my son was first diagnosed and thought it very interesting, if kind of "out there". I mean, since we know that it is the gluten & casein proteins that trigger the opiod process in these children, why use a drug to treat the symptoms when you can just eliminate the problem at its source by following the GFCF Diet? To be honest, I haven't ever heard of anyone actually doing a trial with or regularly using the Naltrexone to treat their child's symptoms of autism, but I do know many families that follow the GFCF Diet with the same or better results as those reported in the study you mention.

    Answer by mom2aspclboy at 11:03 AM on May. 27, 2009

  • Nope, but seeing the study was on such a small group I wouldn't believe it too much. The study just isn't large enough to know if the treatment really worked.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 11:54 AM on May. 27, 2009

  • Nope. But it was too small of a sample and too long ago that it wouldn't hold water in the scientific community anyway. (based on the little bit you posted)

    You can't say that because it worked in two girls, it will work in the entire population of the United States (let alone the world), nor can it be inferred on boys.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:00 PM on May. 27, 2009